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Syria's Assad: Idlib chemical attack 'fabrication'

The suspected chemical attack killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during an interview with AFP in the capital Damascus. How can you verify a video?

President Assad's flat denial that his country has used chemical weapons and that last week's incident was a fabrication concocted by al-Qaeda and Washington does not square with the "case for the prosecution".

The April 4 attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people and prompted the United States to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base in response, its first direct assault on the Assad government in the six-year-old conflict.

In his AFP interview, Assad accused the West, particularly the United States, of being "hand-in-glove with the terrorists" over the Khan Sheikhoun incident. He questioned whether they were even actually dead in his first interview since the chemical attack last Tuesday.

Experts tell NPR this explanation does not make sense, based on the nature of the chemicals used.

The videos of children suffocating on sarin gas in Idlib were fake, President Assad of Syria said yesterday. "They fabricated the whole story to have a pretext for the attack".

In 2013, Syria was blamed for a chemical attack that hit the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta, in which activists say 1,400 people died.

Syria and its most powerful ally, Russia, have vehemently denied the accusations, saying that terrorist groups were behind the deaths.

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Following the news about the chemical attack, Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo said that he could not imagine that the Syrian government "is so naive and ignorant to be able to do such 'errors'".

Witnesses said they saw warplanes attack the town but Russian Federation says a rebel depot of chemical munitions was hit.

On Wednesday, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding a probe, prompting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to say Moscow had put itself "on the wrong side of the argument".

It says that samples already are being tested and the mission is expected to report its findings in three weeks.

The Khan Sheikhun incident prompted the first direct USA military action against Assad's government since the war began, with 59 cruise missiles hitting the Shayrat airbase three days after the suspected chemical attack.

Syria "continues to possess and use chemical weapons". Soon after the strike, experts said that victims' symptoms suggested a toxic chemical was used - specifically the potent nerve agent sarin.

Denying any involvement whatsoever, the Syrian leader said: "A hundred percent for us, it's fabrication".

Since starting with mass protests in March 2011, Syria's conflict has spiralled into a devastating civil war that has killed more than 320,000 people and forced millions from their homes.

"Frankly, it's a tactic we've seen on Russia's part as well in the past", Toner told a daily press briefing.

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